Writing on USA Today‘s editorial page, attorney Jay Sekulow says “New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s decision not to invite clergy of any faith to commemorate the anniversary Sunday at Ground Zero is a mistake.”
The move is deeply offensive to the many Americans who find solace and healing in prayer, notes Sekulow:
For many, 9/11 is not a distant memory. It’s still very real. Many face day-to-day struggles to cope with the loss of loved ones.
In the days following 9/11, prayer was an integral part of the grieving process. Thousands attended the “Prayer for America” event at Yankee Stadium, where representatives of many faiths offered prayers. It was an event that united, not divided, Americans.
The nation has a long and cherished history of prayer, from the first prayer in Congress in 1774 to the National Day of Prayer celebrated each year. Even the Supreme Court acknowledges our religious heritage. Justice Sandra Day O’Connor put it this way: “It is unsurprising that a nation founded by religious refugees and dedicated to religious freedom should find references to divinity in its symbols, songs, mottoes, and oaths.”
There’s a growing chorus of Americans — religious and non-religious alike — calling on Mayor Bloomberg to reconsider his decision. And in the past week, we have heard from thousands of Americans who have signed our letter urging Mayor Bloomberg to change his mind. He still has time to act. He should clear the way for clergy and religious leaders to participate — to pray for our nation, and to pray for those who are still suffering from the pain and loss of Sept. 11, 2001.